The Galaxy Note 9 is available in stores today. It is an excellent flagship device with few flaws, but it is plagued by Samsung’s virtual assistant Bixby. Most people would assume you could turn off Bixby on the Note 9, just like you could on the Note 8, Galaxy S8, and Galaxy S9 phones — but it turns out, you can’t.
Unlike Samsung’s prior Galaxy smartphones, there is no “Bixby Key” settings screen within Android’s main settings or the Bixby app. Previously, you could switch off Bixby entirely, including disabling the key itself so that it did nothing. (Sadly, Samsung doesn’t let you actually remap it to another more useful function, even on the S9 or other earlier models.) Meanwhile, if you make a quick search for “Bixby Key” on the Note 9, you’ll come across this empty screen.
In our review of the Note 9, it was clear that Bixby still isn’t ready for prime time. Bixby’s feature set and accuracy are not even close to Google Assistant’s (which is also included on the Note 9). It frequently misreads my voice and has the most robotic voice model of the popular virtual assistants, including Alexa, Cortana, and Siri. The Note 9 is equipped with an updated version of Bixby that adds a new interface and more third-party app integrations compared to Bixby on the S9 or Note 8, but it still suffers from many of the same issues as before.
To make matters worse, the awkward placement of the Bixby button under the volume rocker means you’ll mistakenly trigger it by just picking up the phone. It’s possible that Samsung could issue an update allowing Note 9 owners to disable the button in the future, but until then, Bixby will continue to be a literal thorn on the side of an otherwise great device.